Union Bank Plc has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to vacate the interim order forfeiting Flat 7B Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos to the Federal Government.
Acting on intelligence from a whistle-blower, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, on April 12, raided the flat, discovering the sum of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23, 218,000 (about N13bn) stashed away in iron cabinets and “Ghana-must-go” bags.
The funds were subsequently forfeited to the Federal Government on the order of Justice Muslim Hassan.
The EFCC later approached Justice Saliu Saidu on November 9, 2017 and obtained an interim order temporarily forfeiting the flat itself to the Federal Government.
Upon granting the interim order, Justice Saidu had given two weeks for any party interested in the property to appear before him to show cause why it should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
When the case was called on Thursday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, A.A. Aribisala, appeared before the judge on behalf of Union Bank, which claims to own the property.
Aribisala said he had on behalf of Union Bank filed an application, seeking the lifting of the interim forfeiture order.
In an affidavit he filed in support of the application, one Alfred Edun, averred that the building known as 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, had been acquired by one Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, by virtue of a certificate of occupancy dated September 27, 2009 and registered as 97/97/2009 in the Lands Registry Office, Alausa, Lagos.
Ebun averred that Mu’azu had already mortgaged the entire property to Union Bank by virtue of a Tripartite Deed of Legal Mortgage dated November 1, 2011, in order to secure a loan granted to Tripple A. Properties & Investment Ltd.
The bank further claimed it sold the property to Chobe Ventures Ltd., a company linked to the wife of the suspended Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Mrs. Folashade Oke, to liquidate the loan.
But the EFCC opposed Union Bank’s application, contending that the bank lacks the ‘locus standi’ to challenge the forfeiture of property “reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities of Ambassador Ayo Oke and Mrs. Folashade Oke.”
Justice Saidu adjourned till January 12, 2018 to entertain pending applications in the case.
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